What Every Parent REALLY NEEDS to Know to Prevent Overdoses in Teens and Young Adults

Parenting Teens – Drug Education

While some areas of drug use in the U.S. have decreased considerably amongst young adults, one significant figure that has not decreased is that of teen overdoses. In fact, while fewer teens are abusing drugs state to state, overdose rates for teens who are abusing drugs are increasing rapidly.

This is not just a problem for teens. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report indicated that the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of fifty is death by accidental drug overdose. In 2016, the drug abuse crisis of modern-day America claimed more than sixty-four thousand lives, a nineteen percent increase from 2015’s fifty-two thousand deaths and a forty percent increase from 2014’s forty-thousand deaths.

While there is sadness and misery in any life snuffed out due to substance abuse, there is something truly heartbreaking when an adolescent under the age of twenty is killed by recreational, accidental drug use. Overdose drug deaths amongst adolescents increased by nineteen percent in just one year.

Governmental Action Taken to Curb Teen Drug Use

Several government programs have been implemented to curb teen substance abuse. Some states have implemented Good Samaritan laws, laws which encourage bystanders to call law enforcement and medical responders if they suspect potential drug use or an overdose. The laws insist that bystanders who call in or bring a drug user to a hospital will not be persecuted for association with a drug user.

Another action taken to help prevent drug use amongst teens is that of increased government legislation and regulation on pharmaceutical giants. Such actions curb Big Pharma’s ability to relentlessly produce addictive pharmaceuticals.

Yet another approach has been the implementation of Narcan, the commercial name for naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug. Most states have funded Narcan programs so that emergency responders can carry Narcan with them in the event of an overdose.

Parental Strategies for Curbing Teen Drug Use

There are few experiences a parent could go through that are as awful as a teen son or daughter overdosing on drugs. When parents fear their teen is using opiates or some other drug, they need to take action to resolve that crisis. Parents can:

  • Talk to their teen son or daughter. Communication and open discussion about substances is the most effective method of preventing teens from engaging in drug use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens who experience open discussion about drugs and alcohol with their parents and learn a lot about it, as a result, are four times less likely to engage in drug use and alcohol abuse. However, only thirty percent of parents actually discuss drug and alcohol use with their kids. That needs to change.
  • Parents can educate themselves on the signs and indicators of drug use. This way, if their teen does start to abuse opiates, they will know about it rather instantaneously. Parents can get to the bottom of their teen’s activities and nip it in the bud before the habit takes off into a full-fledged addiction.
  • Parents can promote a sober lifestyle in their homes. Teens who grow up with parents who recreationally partake in drugs or alcohol are statistically speaking far more likely to abuse substances themselves later on in life. Parents need to promote a sober lifestyle and a healthy environment in the home.
  • Parents can encourage community effort to promote abstinence and drug prevention. The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” applies here. When the entire community is involved in running drug prevention campaigns and cracking down on alcohol abuse, one’s children will grow up in a healthier environment in general.

We need to curb the death toll of drug and alcohol abuse. Parents can have a significant effect on this. It is certainly well worth the effort to apply the above strategies and other strategies to give our kids the best upbringing and the best futures that they can get.


Talking to Your Kids: Communicating the Risks

Breaking Down the Uptick in Adolescent Overdoses

Teen drug overdose death rate climbed 19% in one year

Drug Overdoses in Youth



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.